Sunday, June 27, 2010

It's Yours

Recently I've been talking to a lot of people new to the Orthodox gay scene, whether in the closet or out, they are first beginning to understand who they themselves are. To you, and all my friends-gay and straight, I have some advice:

Your sexuality is yours. You have the right to do with it what you feel is best for you. If a straight person wants to get married, great, if he wants to stay single, that's fine too, even though Orthodoxy may encourage you to get married as son as possible. For a gay person- if you need to be in the closet, do that. If you need to be out of the closet do that. if you want to marry a member of the opposite gender- I do not really support that, but just make sure you take into account other people's feelings and emotions when doing it.

Sexuality is fluid. For many people it is ever changing, from curiosity to bisexuality to homosexuality and back again. And there's nothing wrong with that. The important thing is that you stay in touch to who you are- and you focus on what you really want from your life. Understand where you fall on the "spectrum" and how that plays in to your life. You sexuality is yours, to know, to understand and to do with it what you feel best. When someone is in the closet, many people try to encourage them to come out and many people try to force you to stay in there, especially in the Orthodox world. So again, try to know what is best for you, and don't let anyone else force you to do anything one way or another.

27 comments:

  1. Sheer nonsense coming out will not make homosexuality ok it will not become halachically accepted or allowed it is wrong and there is nothing that making a public display of it will accomplish.

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  2. that first comment is unacceptable. u should be able to be accepted in the community no matter what.

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  3. I don't plan to make a habit of feeding the trolls, but Anon 12:58, you state: "...coming out will not make homosexuality ok it will not become halachically accepted or allowed it is wrong and there is nothing that making a public display of it will accomplish."

    The blogger has not said anything in this post about seeking to achieve (or encouraging others to seek out) "halachic acceptability" or validation of any sort from the community. He simply states that your sexuality is yours, and you alone should own it, whatever that means for you. Furthermore, "coming out" doesn't necessarily mean hanging rainbow flags from your window and dressing in drag (although, hey, whatever works...), so your homophobic paranoia about "making a public display of it" is equally specious.

    I'm sure I've not made a dent in the surface of your ignorance, but at least I tried. It is helpful to READ the blog if you intend to comment intelligently (and be taken seriously) on it.

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  4. C-Phobic your ability to be insulting really highlights the depth of your intelligence and your use of high vocabulary words is truly impressive your ability to use a thesarus is truly a talent to be admired.

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  5. I generally agree with your post, but I think it ignores, or glosses over at best, the difficult nature of some of your advice. First, your comment about sexuality being fluid and, for some, everchanging certainly has empirical support (or so I hear). However, you then say that there is nothing wrong with that. I appreciate your view on this and that you are trying to provide support to people who feel their sexuality to be in flux, but saying that there is nothing wrong with that fluidity, to me at least, doesn't reflect the reality that faces a person whose sexuality is in flux. It is confusing and potentially hurtful for people to be abandoned by husbands who have recently found themselves to be gay, as it must feel comparably saddening to be left by a same-sex life-partner who just learned of his straight attractions. I know you are not advocating these types of behaviors (i.e., abandoning), but I think a sexually in-flux person with a desire for long-term relationships is not easily calmed by believing there is nothing wrong with that. Unfortunatley, in the realm of interpersonal relationships, there is something wrong with that.

    This leads me to my next topic. I believe that you are mostly correct in your advice about staying in and coming out. You caution people against basing in or out desicions on the opinions of others. While I think this makes sense, I see more complexity in the in-out struggle than is addressed in your recommendation. While those who help anonymous closeted people do tremendous Chesed and can be absolutely instrumental in the developmental and integrative process of sexuality into an eventual gay person's identity, they are people too. As one of these closeted individuals, I recognize and expect those who help me to have a limit as far as what they are willing to do for me. They don't know me, and their "real" friends probably come first. The relationship can feel one-sided at times, and I am not sure it is fair to ask, or realistic to expect a person who is out to always be there for a closeted and anonymous person. Helpful, yes; super-duper dedicated, no. Perhaps I am just projecting the impatience I think I would feel if I were out and supporting instead of being in and supported. If I am not solely projecting though, I think it is important for closeted individuals to be aware of the unique relationship they have with those whose support they benefit from. I am not saying they should come out because those who are out want them to. I am just saying they should not be oblivious or feel disconeected from the humaness of those they get help from. The last thing a closeted person wants is to empty out the bank account, so to speak.

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  6. I think most people are somewhere at the bisexual range, just not more will admit it. Some are at the extreme ends of the spectrum but that is not normal. I wrote something similar to what you are saying back here ( http://skepticbutjewish.blogspot.com/2010/06/bisexual-gender-theory.html ).

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  7. I'm not sure what "high vocabulary words" are, nor do I intend on engaging in a battle of wits with someone who has not even learned the finer points of English composition (grammar? Punctuation? These are fairly basic concepts, you know) but nonetheless, it is clear that you know your post has no merit, since you have opted to attack me personally rather than address the issues. I haven't used a thesaurus (note the correct spelling) since grade 6; I simply know how to articulate my thoughts in a clear and intelligent manner.

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  8. bottom line folks , we (the community) cannot throw this under the rug any longer we are saying A LOT of frumm people of all ages tormenting ourselves feeling ashamed etc. possibly suicidal thoughts as well!

    We need to start taking more action and educating our community and telling our frumm people who going through this that they are ok and they were created btzelem Elokim.

    Too many of our frumm people are leaving yiddishkeit completly . They want so badly to remain frumm and be gay. We need to start in my opinion by taking action with our Rabbanim meeting and telling our wonderful frumm community to embrace our fellow yidden who have feelings for the same sex. Live and let live!!!!

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  9. How many closeted people have thought of suicide on this blog? If the number is few, is it because everyone else is dead?

    Or, are these instances supporting rationalization relatively rare?

    "they want so badly to remain frumm and be gay"

    How is this different than intermarrieds "who want so badly to remain frumm" and be intermarried?

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  10. I don't think you can take an accurate poll about suicidal readers from your anon comment. I would set something up, but that's way too morbid.

    And it's different than intermarriage, because I see them as having had more of a choice. If they so badly want to be Frum and accepted, then they shouldn't have entered into a relationship with a non-jew. They can love jewish opposite genders, but they chose non-Jewish.

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  11. ^ Aha, but some people refuse to acknowledge that lack of choice that a homosexual faces and thinks they should choose to be with a women, regardless. That's probably the reason for their analogy.

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  12. I am inclined to agree, homosexuality while the inclination may not be by choice it is up to the individual to use the free will given to him by G-d. G-d does not create tests for people to fail but rather to overcome their natural inclination and do what is right al pi halacha.

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  13. So does this mean a guy cannot have any intimacy with another guy and he has to remain celibate for the rest of his life?

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  14. It would seem that is the implication of Anon 12:58... That is not, however, the path I choose to follow.

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  15. FrumGay: "That is not, however, the path I choose to follow."

    Would is this supposed to mean? Do you mean that you are open to have a gay lover? ^_^

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  16. Anon 4:44 yes from a halachic standpoint intimacy with another man is prohibited celibacy is not required unless the individual chooses that life for themselves.....FrumGay that is your decision to make however it is still a deviation from halacha.

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  17. Those who "sanctify" homosexual relationships are in the same category, al pi Halacha, as those who marry barnyard animals.

    Gay couples raising families is hip, kewl. It works in Manhattan, but advocating frum gay marriage is never going to be popular in the mainstream. Sympathy for homosexuals is increasing, but while frumgay can live his life any way he chooses, Orthodoxy will allow minorities to disappear, just as intermarrieds are largely flushed away.

    You can live your own life any way you see fit and if you pay dues, will find a synagogue welcoming you.

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  18. Anon 12:59, I'd like to see all your Halachik resources for these things (in a private email tho), and please try and be more open minded, especially when commenting on my blog.

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  19. A problem with FrumGay is that he self decieves himself. FrumGay, you cannot find gay friendly or gay supportive halacha in Orthodox Judaism. Sorry, but you just cannot. It is not there. Trying to make Orthodox Judaism gay friendly is almost as hard as trying to make the Mein Kampf Jew friendly, it just will not work unless you give up Orthodox Jewish beliefs. So the Anonymous poster is in a way correct in what he said. He may be anti-gay but he is quoting Orthodox Judaism correctly. You practice self deception. You do not want your beloved religion to turn out being homophobic so you search for excuses to comfort yourself from such a though, hence the birth of your self deception. I do not mean this to insult you, I like you, but I am just psychologically evaluating you so that perhaps it will in the end make your life better.

    ---

    Now time to respond to Anonymous at 12:59. You cannot compare gay marriage to marrying animals. Marriage is supposed to be a contract between two (or more) partners. Animals cannot enter into contracts, at least not yet, ... maybe PETA will change this. But at the moment animals are not recognized as having contractual rights. So your comparison is ridiculous. And if it is not your comparision but halacha that you are quoting then that halacha is stupid.

    Now perhaps you are trying to imply that morally having sex with the same sex and an animal is the same. I agree. Morally these acts are the same. Because I have no problem with homosexuality or bestiality. (I know others would strongly disagree but I do not have a problem with such actions).

    Gay couples raising families is nothing about being kewl. It is about gay couples having the same right as other families to raise kids together. Gay couples do not do this because they want to be kewl but because, like other people, they want to have kids and enjoy their children.

    You mention that sympathy for homos is increasing but Orthodoxy will never accept them. I know. And hopefully in the future people will realize how immoral Orthodox Judaism can be. Because the rest of the world is changing its standards for the rest of the world realized the error in its ways. But Orthodox Judaism refuses to change, it will never admit it was mistaken, it will continue to call itself the absolute truth and perfect moral system.

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  20. Spinoza, while Orthodox law is fairly inflexible, the interpretation has multiple facets, and I have heard many of them. However, law aside, the Orthodox community IS progressing and IS becoming more gay-friendly although you may not see it, those of us still in the Orthodox world see tremendous progress, such as the YU panel and three Orthodox high-school seniors who have done research projects and papers on Orthodoxy and homosexuality. As well as the many Orthodox people that are coming out, and many communities understanding the struggle.

    I assure you, there is no self-deception here. There are many who perceive the community to be too close-minded and run away from Orthodoxy, b/c it's easier to run.

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  21. FrumGay, the Orthodox community is not progressing. Some members in the community are progressive about this issue, such as yourself, because you are a good person who is compassionate. But Orthodox Judaism in and of itself is homophobic.

    You mention there are multiple interpretations. This is what really confuses me. The Torah clearly implies, that if the Sanhedrin was in authority, two gay men who love each other and practice buttsex must be stoned to death. That means a nice person like yourself would be put to death, by Jewish laws, if you had a gay partner whom you loved and expressed intimacy. The Torah is explicitly clear. What other interpretation is there? Do you want to say that the Torah never says "gay". Fine. That is true. And it is not actually anti-homosexual. But it is strongly against, by murder, against homosexuals who would love eachother. If you try to ignore this vicious homophobic statement by coming up with a justification to why it rather means then you are committing self-deception.

    Furthermore, I do want to mention that the Modern Orthodox movement, like at YU (by the way I live right next to YU!, I would love to come over to the gay discussins they have there) is slowly moving away from Orthodoxy. Places like YU do go against established halacha. In the future, this is my prediction, Modern Orthodoxy will no longer be Orthodox Judaism. So yes, there are people strongly supportive of gays or possibly gay marriage in Jewish communities, but these communities are no longer Orthodox. If you want to say that you are not really Orthodox but rather are part of a different Jewish movement, fine, go ahead, but do not call it Orthodoxy, that is not consistent, and self-deceptive. Love and Peace ^.^

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  22. Professor HigginsJuly 1, 2010 at 2:08 AM

    I would like to ask "Frumgay" several questions.
    In a constitutional law class I took several years ago, we dissected a case from the 1600's that occurred in early North America. As you may remember, during this early period of American history when John Winthrop took control with his idiosyncratic religious views, there was very little leniency toward anyone who veered off the beaten path.
    One specific case of religious rebellion involved a man who was fornicating with his animals--pigs, goats, sheep, etc, and was seen and snitched on by a neighbor. At his trial, he sat and watched while each of the animals in question with whom he was caught fornicating were killed right before his eyes. He himself was then sentenced to death. When the court case was placed in the legal books it was decided that, because this man was guilty of "ill-pleasures" of which "God himself would be ashamed" these genres of cases would remain as precedent for future cases to deter others from similar crimes of passion and heresy.
    I bring up this case in question because, as years progressed, it was thoroughly utilized as precedent to punish other forms of religious rebellion. In colonial America, regulation of anything sexual stemmed from Christian religious teachings that reflected the need for only procreative sex to increase the population. Colonial sexual regulation included such non-procreative acts as masturbation, and sodomy laws applied equally to male-male, male-female, and human-animal sexual activity. “Sodomy” was not the equivalent of “homosexual conduct.” It was understood as a particular, discrete, act, not as an indication of a person’s sexuality or sexual orientation.
    This brings me to several questions.
    1.) Do you believe that, based on the historical context I have just explained, historical America should have been more lenient toward such anti-religious views of thattime? If so, how can you correlate these emotions to your own religious apathy? I daresay you must have strong negative feelings toward your religion, regardless of how hard you try to prevent these feelings from emerging. This was, after all, the role that Ann Hutchinson played in her 1637 trial--being told to prevent her passions and dreams that were in strong conflict with the Church.

    2.) What is your view of such things as sodomy, or fornication with animals? Would you call it a disease, or something which one should not be ashamed?

    3.) Is being a homosexual something that you might proscribe as a "problem"? I have only read a few of your messages, however I daresay that you seem quite content with your situation. It is possible that you are not, and wish to be different, however I am interested in your response.

    4.)Finally: If you were to go back 486 years and offer advice to those who were interested in, dare I say "proselytizing" away from strict Christian beliefs--would you tell these people to keep their emotions quiet? Would you ask them to speak up against such figure heads as John Winthrop? Or would you simply tell these people--the man who was fornicating with his goats, the woman who believed that God was seeking her assistance in dreamlike visions, that they were all wrong in their passionate enchantments and that they would need to give up on their heretical actions and veer back onto the straight path?

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  23. First of all I want to commend Ely for this. There is great dialogue to discuss on being "Frumm and Gay" . You are helping so many people who are living like Hermits or are ashamed or are damaged pshycology from this cause they are afraid to be themseleves. I feel in essence that this blog is sort of like a "Misreres Nefesh" if you will for the struggling frumm gay individual.
    I was thinking last night of Rabbi Chaim Rappaport book , I think it's called "Homosexuality and Orthodox Judiasim" if I'm not mistaken. Anyways, I can't stop thinking of the words that he says in his book that we(being gay and Jewish) are "special Neshomos". WOW !!! AWESOME!!!! POWERFUL WORDS!!!

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  24. Actually the book is called "Judiasim and Homosexuality". If you haven't read the book PLEASE DO!!!

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  25. Thanks so much for your response, 6:29 and 6:41, It is a fantastic book and I do try very hard just be honest and clear.

    Professor Higgins, please read through my posts, get a sense of who I am. Clearly if you had the time to type that whole message you have the time to read a few more posts. Then, any remaining questions, feel free to email me privately. I can't respond and would feel uncomfortable having such a large-scale conversation as comments on the blog.
    frumgay@gmail.com

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  26. Homosexuality is an abomination is straight up pasuk from the torah there is no argument against and any argument that may be presented is nothing more than cognitive dissonance and sheer rationalization to justify something which everyone knows is wrong.

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  27. @Anon 2:50- If you'd taken the time to avoid being blindly biased for a second, you would notice that only the ACT of homosexuality, that being fornication between two men, is forbidden by the Torah. This speaks nothing to the issues of civil gay marriage, domestic partnership, child raising, or a host of other issues related to gay Jews. Not to mention their sexual orientation itself- as it is not something that they choose, they are forced to try to find a way to keep Judaism despite the challenges involved. Resisting an inclination to commit this act is no different in theory than restraining ones self from any other forbidden act in Orthodox Judaism, such as eating pork or keeping Shabbat.
    That being said, being gay is probably one of the hardest things for someone who has been raised and lives as an Orthodox Jew. The point that I think should be stressed over and over is that in Judaism, we should not ostracize anyone who struggles with keeping laws of the religion. While it should be made clear as to what halacha asks us to do or not do, something like a sexual orientation is not chosen. The problem encountered by Orthodox gays is that they are rejected for their sexual identity, when in reality they have not done anything "wrong" by halachic standards unit they have committed sexual acts with men. The idea is that we should be finding ways for them to live within the Orthodox community as observant, practicing Jews, instead of simply pushing them away because they are different. Can one feel uncomfortable because they see Orthodox gays as deviant from the norm? Of course. But instead of trying to pretend that they do not exist, we should be trying to help them.
    As to the comparison made between gays in Judaism and intermarriage, the two are in no way the same. By intermarriage, the law is clear regarding what is permissible and what is not- by marrying a non-jewish girl, one not only breaks with halacha but also ensures that their children are not Jewish. Moreover, the person involved doesn't have some sort of "uncontrollable orientation" toward non-jewish girls; they can marry a jewish girl as easily as not, but choose not to limit their options. Homosexuality, however, is quite different. While engaging in sexual activity with a man breaks jewish law, simply BEING gay is like being awake- it is a part of these people, and they understand what Judaism requires of them. While I advocate against ostracizing those intermarrying as much as I do those who are homosexual, it is clear that one is knowingly and purposely parting with Jewish law while the other is striving to keep it.
    The close-mindedness that people always discuss in regard to Orthodox Judaism is justified in protecting halacha. But when it comes to human emotions and basic respect for people, everyone, from the biggest Rabbi's on down, should be trying to help gays instead of hurting them. We should not be trying to change Jewish law to "adapt to the times"; rather, we should be finding ways to help these people adapt their own lives to fit within Jewish law.
    And finally, I've been working under the assumption here that the cross-section of homosexuals that FrumGay has been dealing with is Orthodox Jews who are gay, who are striving to keep Judaism at the same time. Please correct me if I am wrong.

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